Jenny’s Wedding has been highly anticipated since it was announced last year that star Katherine Heigl was helping to raise the funds to finish the film in which she played a lesbian character coming out to her parents. Not only was the former Izzie Stevens going to be playing gay, but her partner was played by Gilmore Girls‘ Alexis Bledel and the film was being written and directed by Mary Agnes Donoghue, who wrote the screenplays for the beloved Bette Middler movie Beaches as well as the award-winning women-centric big screen adaptation of White Oleander.
But despite the star power and appeal of two of our favorite actresses playing lovers, Jenny’s Wedding feels unbalanced and, perhaps, a little too late.
Jenny (Katherine Heigl) is a thirty-something Cleveland woman who is close with her parents (played by Tom Wilkinson and Linda Emond, who have the most defined characters in the film) but has hidden her five-year relationship with her “roommate” Kitty (Alexis Bledel) from them out of fear. She decides that she wants to get married on somewhat of a whim, and presents it in a way that’s about as unromantic as you can get. Jenny announces she wants to get married—there’s no popping of the question or even asking Kitty if she’s interested. In fact, Kitty acts somewhat blasé about it all, with a shrug and a “If you’re sure!”
The lack of chemistry between the two women is frustrating, as the kind of love and connection Jenny wants her parents to believe in isn’t apparent when they’re together on screen. Even when dancing or in a brief shared kiss, Jenny and Kitty appear to be going through the motions. There is a distinct lack of physical and emotional intimacy on both of their behalf, which is confusing and takes away from the story itself.
The real focus of Jenny’s Wedding, though, is Jenny’s relationship with her parents, who do not take kindly to her coming out. Shared mother/daughter, father/daughter moments are what give the film some heart, but in 2015, it’s well-trodden territory. Coming out stories have been the theme of many LGBT movies and very special episodes, so new depictions of these shared experiences need to offer something, well, new. Jenny’s Wedding is, unfortunately, predictable and boring because we’ve seen it before. And without caring about the relationship of the women at its center, it just doesn’t play like it should, especially for a film that revolves around a celebration of love.
Jenny’s stresses and conversations with her family (including her unhappily married sister, played by Grace Gummer) might hit home with those who have had or continue to have struggles with their own loved ones, but otherwise, the movie will likely leave you unmoved. I won’t blame you if you still see it for the women involved—just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Jenny’s Wedding opens in select theaters tomorrow (Friday, July 31) and is available on demand Saturday, August 1.